When the girl was little she was very hard to understand. This is not uncommon for kids who are on the Autism Spectrum. Many are completely non-verbal so we were truly blessed that our girl was even partially communicating. And, as her parents, we were able to understand most of her words. Friends and family, however, had some difficulty.
On a random weekend, we had a couple of friends over to hang out for the day. We goofed off, played with the kids (they had a son a few years older than our girl), and watched The Princess Bride.
After the movie was over we were sitting around talking, the girl and her friend playing on the floor, when suddenly she looks up and very insistently starts expressing an opinion on something. All of the adults kind of looked at each other, hoping one of us understood what she was talking about. But no, we were all lost.
I calmly looked at her and asked her to repeat herself. She stared straight at her “uncle” and once again spewed forth a monologue of pure gibberish. To his credit her “uncle” concentrated very hard on her face and her voice and tried very hard to understand. Again, we were left with nothing.
Repeatedly he asked her to repeat herself, trying desperately to get at least a few words. The more intense she became and the more he concentrated, the funnier the situation was. Until finally he looked at her and said, “Spell it.”
You might think this is a logical thing to do. When you can’t understand the vocalization of a word it makes sense that knowing how it’s spelled will help you decipher what the word is. But this only works if the person talking actually knows how the word is spelled. Or how to spell at all. You see, she was only 5.
My girl looked squarely at her “uncle” and proudly exclaimed, ”NOPDX!” Everything went silent. Our friend was mulling over these letters in his head, attempting to put them in some order that spelled a word that was a part of his vocabulary. We could see him sounding it out, moving his lips. Suddenly, he shook his head and cried, “You can’t spell!”
We lost it. Everyone in the room burst into hysterical laughter except the girl. She looked at us like we were nuts and left the room. The rest of us however spent a good five minutes laughing until it hurt.
We have re-told this story numerous times. The girl has no memory of the event but loves to hear us tell the story. And to this day we have no idea what she was trying to say. But the mental picture of her “uncle’s” face as he concentrated on her spelling can still crack us up with just the mention of NOPDX.